Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Essence Beauty Box: July 2016

I was on the fence about writing a post about this box mostly because... well, does anyone read blog posts that much anymore? It seems like most people prefer video reviews which I'm not about ready to do anytime soon. Anyhow, I have a love/hate relationship with beauty boxes lately -- they are great for trying out new products, but makeup boxes are notoriously difficult for getting makeup that matches or works well with my skin tone. Last year I subbed to Ipsy and Birchbox to build out my bridesmaids bags and while that worked out wonderfully for them, I would think to myself, "This would suck if this were just a box for me or just one of the girls, but it's great to split up amongst four of them." So when Essence offered a first box for $1, I figured that's a deal.

I'm slowly working my way through each of the samples, but this is seriously the first box I've ever gotten whereby I actually might use everything in it. I want to take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of this. Yes, there is no "true" makeup inside, but come on, this is amazing. In this month's box I received:
  • Ciaté London Mini Paint Pot in Pillow Talk
  • Completely Bare Shave Serum
  • Dickinson's Witch Hazel Towelettes
  • Ouidad Curl Immersion Triple Treat Conditioner
  • Pop Beauty Kajal Pen in Inky Purple
  • Pur~Lisse Blue Lotus Essential Daily Moisturizer

The Nail Polish: At first I was a little bit sad that the colour I got was more of a "pebble gray." I tried it on anyway and got really annoyed at how gummy it got as I was painting my nails. After it dried though, it was wonderfully smooth and held up without any chips for quite a few days. The colour itself grew on me so I'm actually quite happy to have gotten this.

The Shaving Serum: Admittedly, I didn't realize it was a serum till I started using it. I figured that it was similar to Whish Shaving Cream that I got a few months ago. Not quite. My skin felt so moisturized during the shave and afterwards which is a great feeling for dry skin. I love this serum and I'm thrilled to now know that there are awesome things out there for shaving.

The Hair Conditioner: I saw "kinky" curls on the label and was a little bit afraid. My hair is curly (or swurly) so I knew either my hair would freak out and get all dry like it does after I use coconut oil or it would be happy. It chose to be happy! My hair was much curlier and felt bouncier after using it. Once again, I'm thrilled to have this in a box because ordinarily, I would shy away from a product like this.

I have yet to try the other products however I will say that I've liked how well Dickinson's and Pur~Lisse has worked for me in the past. So I definitely am glad they were in the box and look forward to using them next. I have heard of Pop Beauty before but I never used their products, so once again, I'm glad to be exposed to a line that I haven't used before.

Overall, this was a fantastic start to the Essence Beauty Box and I'm excited to see what comes through in next month's box. Although I was able to snag the first box with a code for $1, subsequent boxes cost $15 a month. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Being Guyanese & Wedding Planning

When you're planning a wedding, there's a lot of things you have to consider. From etiquette, cultural norms and expectations, your family's vision, your vision, your fiancé's vision, and of course, your partner's families vision, expectations, their cultural norms and traditions, and so on. Wedding planning is taking all of those threads and tying them together. If you luck out, you'll plan and execute a wedding that makes everyone happy or most of them, anyway. Either way, you're bound to do something different, wrong, or get a few disapprovals, especially when you're taking different cultures and trying to get them to mesh. Even if you think they are similar.

So, let's start with me. Hi, I'm what you could consider to be as Indo-Caribbean but if you want to get granular, I'm West Indian, specifically Guyanese-American, who was born in New York. This is not a lesson how to be Guyanese, by the way, there's lots of people who are better at it than I am. Growing up, I lived in a Indian & West Indian community and like anyone else in search of a sense of belonging, it was tough. I'm mentioning this as a way of setting up your expectations, when approaching a wedding, I had an idea of what cultural expectations there were, I just don't know what they mean exactly or how to go about them properly.

Here's what I thought we had to do:
  • Early or mid-week, the bride gets her mehendi done with her side of the family, but mostly the females. The females would leave little notes or messages in the patterns. 
  • On Thursday, manticore is held, which is the religious blessing for the marriage. I think that it's at this time that the bride and groom goes through the wedding turmeric ceremony (Byaha Haath). The details on this one is hazy for me. 
  • On Friday, the families of the wedding couple will come together to finish preparations. Whether that is completing the favour bag that is filled with mithai, puri, parsad, or filling boxes with black cake
  • On Saturday during the day, the groom's family and selected friends goes to the bride's house for the wedding. This is where the religious ceremony takes place and either shortly before (or after) the official documents are signed. 
  • Saturday night the bride and groom get into Western wedding clothes (cue the big fluffy white dress), and party at the reception with their families present. 
  • Come Sunday, the families of the bride and groom meet up once more whether for lunch or dinner. The wedding festivities are finalized and the happy couple are off to their honeymoon.

Wait... Did I miss something? Yeah, I did. I missed a lot but you can sort that out for yourself by taking the customs of an Indo-Caribbean Hindu Wedding, Hindu Wedding, Pakistan Wedding (which is closest to the rituals that we adhere to), and then tie it together with a bit of German traditions. Can you tell that I had no idea what I was doing? 

I sat with my fiancé and we roughly discussed what we wanted out of the wedding and reception. I read A Practical Wedding and One Perfect Day and I frequented wedding forums but here's the thing, when we sorted out what we wanted, we realized that none of these etiquette manuals could cover what we were going through.

Here's the thing that I've realized though -- wedding planning is like it's own elite group. Perhaps not elite exactly, but brides (and grooms) are exposed to a new set of rules that they were probably not aware of prior. That unless they were actively researching it beforehand. Things like, "You should never throw your own engagement party and the the bride's parents are responsible for that," or "the groom's parents pay for the flowers," or "wedding gifts should not be expected but you as the guest should look to cover your seat." But wait, that last one is regional. Also I don't live in the same state as my parents (as the bride), and the groom's parents are planning to move so we didn't want to bother them with flowers. Oh and let's not forget that in a West Indian wedding, it's all hands on deck, everyone helps where they can because the idea is that it's a community event.

It's been a learning lesson and the way we see it, it's been a like skill set gained. There's a small part of me that chuckles that both he and I have a background in customer service as account managers so in some ways, we've been able to stay ahead of our wedding checklist. Not just that, but we've been able to be at peace with things that just aren't going to quite go our way.

But here's the thing. By doing everything wrong by everyone else's standards, and not quite following one tradition or the other, in some ways, we're left out of the conversation. There aren't really people that I can talk to about my red saree, how over the top our parents are going with different traditions, or trying to tie it all together. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I did it for the Medals

Back in December... Of 2014, I wrote about getting into running. Then life happened and even though I did finish the C25k program, well, let's just say that today I ran 15 minutes. I am also extremely proud of myself, but let's go back a bit.

In February 2015, I ran my first organized 5K at the Annual Kaiser Permanente San Francisco 5K through Golden Gate Park and it was wonderful. It was well organized, a great path through the park, and the atmosphere was energetic. Not to mention that the cool breeze through the park and the shaded path made it for a soothing run. Yes, I said a "soothing run." By the end of it, I knew which other organized 5K's I wanted to run and since I had that under my belt, I quickly signed up for the 5K's for Super Run and Run Like a Diva. My stretch goal was to run the 10k Sirena later in 2015. Within a week after the Kaiser run and right after signing up for the Super and Diva run, I started experiencing pains in my shins and my knees. 

By the time the Super Run rolled around in March, I hadn't run in about two months because I could not. I managed to run about 2 miles before my knees and ankles started to give way. When Divas came up in May, I walked it instead and beat myself up mentally the entire way. Sometimes you really just can't; you try but it's just not meant for you. I tried to pick up running here and there, but after a while it longer became that I couldn't physically do it, but I just didn't have the time anymore. After sustaining another weird injury in October whereby I couldn't move for a few weeks (I'm fine now, but don't let anyone tell you that you can't throw your shoulder out during CPR.Mostly because they, nor will any of your doctors believe you). When I regained movement, I decided it was time to donate one of my running shoes. I still held on to the pair that my brother gave me for Christmas though.

A few days ago, while chatting with a friend about running, we talked about Divas. I think that that was her first run and she asked if I'd be up for doing it again for 2016. Honestly, without training and just coming off of two injuries, I doubted my ability to do it. I still doubt my ability to do it. So a few days after, I pulled on my ridiculous tights, my Divas shirt from last year, and my new Merells, and ran on the treadmill. I discovered that I really do hate the treadmill. Walking or running on the treadmill feels like an eternity. I tried listening to a book or music and I was exasperated to see and feel each second go by. On the first day I ran 11 minutes and then my knee and hip started hurting so I stopped. 

Two days later I geared up again with my ridiculous tights (why do I own running leggings, I don't even like them. I prefer exercise pants), my FlipBelt, and the C25k app loaded on my phone. I made it all of 16 minutes before I told myself that maybe this was good enough for now. See there are some benefits for starting over though! 

  1. I have all the gear and the clothes. I know that seems like a minor thing, but it's really nice to already have a series of running outfits set and not have to go out of my way to find what works. 
  2. Speaking of which, I where all the braces go, the compression sleeves, and the kinesthetic tape goes. There's so much less guess work and that makes me so happy.
  3. I know what pace I ought to be running at. I know what's too quick and too slow so I can adjust accordingly, instead of having to find my pace again. As a note, it took me about 6 weeks the first time to find my pace. 
  4. I know which apps to use. Sure, it might be silly, but it's really nice to already know that the iHeartRadio app works well with the C25k program. It's also good to know for myself that I do prefer the radio over my own music. Before, I used to play my favourite songs, but as it turns out, I knew exactly how long they were so I'd count the minutes of the run. It turns out, I really didn't like running back then. Not sure if I do now though...
  5. I've done it before and I can do it again. This is what powers me through and even though I might not be able to run at the same pace or finish with the same times, I can do it. I just have to try.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Influenster: Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion

Items were received by Influenster VoxBox complimentary.

I was excited to qualify for this box -- simply because I've been a huge fan of Vaseline lotions since I was a child. The only lotion that worked for me was the cocoa butter one which is now called  Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Lotion. In fact, the Cocoa Radiant is what I was using before the Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion arrived in the mail. 

So upon receiving Advanced Repair, I realized that this is supposed to be richer than the cocoa butter version which is happily welcomed here because my skin gets so dry. This version is unique to me because it actually contains Vaseline jelly -- which strangely enough doesn't come off as being to heavy and is absorbed quickly by the skin.

After a few days of trying it out, I have to admit that this is better than the Cocoa Radiant (though I do like the scent of Cocoa Radiant). My skin remains thoroughly moisturized and happier due to the switch. The only time I even realized the difference in the texture was one day when I was out in the rain and the Vaseline jelly became a bit more noticeable. 

Overall, I'm really happy that I got to try this one because it might have earned a permanent spot on my shelf. Dry skin rejoice! 

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary through the VoxBox product testing program.

Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion currently retails for $8.07 at Target

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Infuenster: Target Dry Spray VoxBox

Items were received by Influenster VoxBox complimentary.

 It's the start of a new year and what better way to kick it off than to receive a box that you forgot about! If you haven't tried Influenster just yet, I'd highly recommend that you do so. It's a great way to try new products. 

Moving along, I remembered qualifying for a box but as it turned out, I qualified for two. So during that email mix up of mine, I was surprised to see this in the mail. For years now, I've been solely using deodorants (not antiperspirants) so my experience might differ a bit from those who typically use antiperspirants. 

Off the bat, I was a bit hesitant to use it merely because it is in aerosol form. If you're not prone to paying attention to where you're spraying and instead singing along to your playlist, chances are you could miss. I've managed to avoid most aerosols for this reason. This will make sense later.

On the first day of using it, even though it's easy to use and yes, if you're paying attention you aren't bound to spray it anywhere else but that scent was a bit off. Not the actual scent of the antiperspirant itself but the aerosol goodness that lingered in the air. Seriously, I felt like I was choking on it. This is also very likely my fault so to any other people who are looking to use something similar, step out of small areas and go into areas that air freely flows because otherwise you're choking on the aerosol air even though your antiperspirant itself smells good. 

Overall, it stayed on and kept those pits protected which is exactly what it should do (and what you're looking for in an antiperspirant). The next day that I tried it, while singing along to what I assume would be the Artic Monkeys, I accidentally sprayed my neck first. I told you it would make sense later. The lesson that you've learned here it to check the nozzle and back sure it's pointed in the right direction. On the bright side, I guess, my neck was protected with this light cucumber scent. The aerosol like scent wafted in the air and while I ran out of the bathroom to avoid the headache, I can say that it does it still does what it needs to do. 

So now that you've read my journey with the aerosol antiperspirant, I'd recommend it to those that are looking for an antiperspirant of that type. Although I'd say the Dove stick and gel antiperspirant would likely be on par, if not better. As for me, I'm switching back to my deodorants merely because they were serving me well in the first place. Nonetheless, it is still good to have especially for heavy duty activities like exercising. 

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary through the VoxBox product testing program.

Dove Cool Essentials Dry Spray Antiperspirant (3.8 oz) currently retails for $5.49 at Target. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

I'm Not a Runner

I originally wrote the majority of this for a friend but considering that it has a fair amount of information that could actually be useful to anyone else, I decided to share some of it. Please keep in mind that I started the program back in October so I have some other notes about the program and gear intended for another post).

To start with, I've had bad knees since I was a teenager. I don't really know what brought it about, but the pain would arrive in waves so I never really got into sports much. I remembered that I really liked running when I was younger, but my knees and ankles gave out really quickly. It wasn't a matter of strength because the pain was different. Sure, I could walk through the pain, but I couldn't "run" past it. I couldn't do much except for put on a brace and keep going. So when I decided to try to start running, this wasn't a decision made lightly nor could I view it as a real commitment. After all, at any point my knees could give out and create a resting state for a while. I could always pick it up again, but committing was different. 

Making the leap to running or even jogging was a long stretch for me. For the longest time I eyed runDisney from afar. For a while I tried running with my boyfriend and our housemate but my knee acted up so I had to stop. That doesn't mean I can't dream. Anyhow, in my attempts to find another activity in between yoga (I use Hulu, Chromecast to project from Do Yoga With Me, 42 Yogis, Yoga with Adrienne, Yoga with Adriene, and the hopes that one day I'll be disciplined enough to make it into a studio), I needed something else. I had been taking the dog for extra walks throughout the day, but I still needed something. After checking a few subreddits, that led me to the Couch to 5K (or C25K, for short) program.

I did as much research as I could which included checking with others about how they manage pain with running, specifically focusing on knee issues. Preparing is a weird kind of beast because I wasn't just preparing for running. I was preparing for the inevitable bad feelings that would surface when I started running. I get really depressed when I do any kind of exercise (yes, weird, I know, but not unlike me either). I was hesitant about the first run but the first week seems pretty short (here's the training schedule and visual of the schedule). 

The next step was sneakers (or running shoes) so I checked around on Groupon and Woot for deals. Sadly most of them that were available didn't quite suite my tastes. You might able be snag a pair that you like on either site so I encourage you to check there. As for myself, I ended up getting the Merrell Women's All Out Fuse Trail Running Shoe which came out to just under $70. While I waited for those to arrive, I started looking into the C25K apps. There are a lot out there and I'm picky about apps. So I downloaded a few, ran them for a bit, but settled on C25K - 5K Trainer FREE for my first two runs (I ended up getting the Pro version shortly after). I had the headphones already along with my mp3 player, my phone with the app, and then when I went out for my first run (without my mp3 player), I realized how clunky it was all going to be. I decided to get this sports armband, nix the mp3 player and just use my phone with the Spotify and C25K app. 

I still get knee pains so a friend of mine suggested that I run with my cloth brace on those days that I think it will hurt. So far that has only happened on one day and it worked out okay. 

So I guess the last thing to mention is running clothes. Because apparently running clothes isn't quite the same as yoga clothes which has more flexibility. I have a few pieces from Nike (a running tank, mesh shirt, and pants), but I got a few more items from Old Navy. I don't know why but Old Navy's sports bras have been way better to me than Nike's. I ended up picking out a few more things from ON.

About the depression while I run (and not my regular old depression), the program is in such short intervals that it forces me to pay attention at this point so my mind can't drift which is great. Week 5 and onward worries me though. When the stretches of running become longer and my mind will inevitably drift. But I'll worry about that then. Does it mean I'll see Week 9? I don't know, but at least I tried and that's what matters. So if you're on the fence about giving it a shot, no matter what the reason is, I'd say that you should try, even if that's all you can tell yourself. But the attempt is worth it. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Storing Makeup

Somewhere in between my Hello Waffle and Darling Girl Halloween shopping binge, I realized that I hadn't gone through my stash and tried to organize it in a cohesive manner in a while. As of now, a lot of my makeup is scattered between a few bags so there wasn't an easy way to assess it all quickly. Now a month ago I had assessed the way I stored my makeup and figured it would come down to two options:
  1. I convert a space into a vanity of some sort and use a drawer system. The best thing I could find to emulate this would be a hardware storage for parts and then I could figure out how the other pieces (such as brushes or other tools) would fit in. 
  2. Get a new train kit to store everything I had.
Both have their limitations -- the first option is limited on space and the other was out of my price range. I shelved the idea for a bit till the binge occurred because I quickly realized that if I can't access my makeup to make purchasing decisions, then there would be a problem. So the quickest solution was to look around the house and sure enough, I found a decent solution.

A while ago when my boyfriend and I visited Disney World, he purchased the Disney Wonderland Tea Boxed Assortment for me because we both love tea and the box is beautiful. The only problem was that the dividers took up a fair amount of space so if I left them in, they couldn't all fit. If I took them out, then items would slide around. The solution was adorable but not practical for storage. 

I checked around for alternative solutions that could knock around a bit were it in storage. After seeing a few pictures of storage alternatives on /r/indiemakeupandmore, I figured I could give those photograph storage bins a shot. If not, we have plenty of Legos that could be put in there instead. I decided to go with a small version to see if it would actually work so I got the IRIS Photo and Craft Keeper.

The bin comes with six 4" x 6" cases inside. Unfortunately, for a lot of the eyeshadow pots I have, I can't store them on their side so that I can see their colour so that means I needed to split up each of them by colour. I opted to put them in upside down since I'm storing the larger container on it's end (pictured below).

Above is my collection of the reds, pinks, and oranges. Of the ones that are in there, only the small Darling Girl pots and Hello Waffle eyeshadows can be stored on their side which means that there isn't too much room to spare. On the bright side, which this seems naturally limiting, there are 5 more containers to sort it all out. If you have a larger collection then going up in size may be the best option. 

I definitely did wish that I could go back to just using my tea box but for now this method would be best since it's sturdy for storage whereas the tea box would be best for display and everyday use. But hey, who knows how my collection will evolve. Especially since there's always more makeup to be had.